Has a soft schedule inflated Arizona’s season?
Arizona’s one the upswing. The Wildcats are 8-2 – their best start under Sean Miller – and feature forward Derrick Williams, the do-it-all forward who’s becoming a tempo-free stats god.
Yet … is all just an illusion? Arizona’s lost its only two notable games, to Kansas and BYU, which led Bruce Pascoe from the Arizona Daily Star to wonder if the sparkling start is merely the byproduct of a soft schedule.His nut graf(s):
Is Arizona the deep and athletic outfit that smokes opponents by 20 or more points, keeps them shooting around 40 percent and doesn’t even need a full day’s work from potential All-American Derrick Williams?
Or is it the one that, in losses to Kansas and BYU, is offensively stagnant, defensively passive and can’t quite get a full day from Williams because of foul trouble?
One might call that a finals week story. Fretting about an 8-2 start seems excessive, but Miller seems to have concerns of his own. And for that, he blames the rat-a-tat-tat scheduling.
“Part of it is we’re playing so many games, we don’t have a long time to practice so we’ve really been going from one game to the next,” Miller said. “We’ve now played four games away from home. We’re like a lot of teams trying to get better at the things we need to, but at the same time you have to do it in a very quick turnaround from one game to the next.”
Fret not, my namesake. That coolly efficient offense – propelled by the apparently unstoppable Williams – isn’t to be trifled with and that defense isn’t too shabby either. What makes me so sure?
The early stats on kenpom.com indicate Arizona’s in solid company (rated behind Tennessee and ahead of Michigan State at 17) because when the Wildcats win, they don’t mess around. They drill opponents. That win margin and overall performance is usually a good indicator of future success (it also applies to BYU).
And in a middling Pac-10, that should be more than enough to keep Arizona rolling.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.